Please, read the Deep Adaptation paper!

Deep adaptation : a map for navigating climate tragedy is an academic paper authored in 2018 by a British sustainability professor called Jem Bendell. The paper calls out the sustainability profession for refusing to look climate data in the eye and admitting the possibility – and maybe the high probability – of near-term societal collapse due to climate change. Next, it proceeds to propose an agenda that makes sense if you believe that collapse might come. The paper was rejected for publication, apparently on the grounds not that it contained bad science, but that it was too negative.

I finally got around to reading it. It makes an impressive read, more or less what we would get if another brother of @matthias’s had become a climate scientist. :smile:

If there is one single document to guide and inspire EarthOS, I suggest this is it. I am taking the (grim) climate science on trust, but the social analysis sounds familiar (emphasis mine).

The West’s response to environmental issues has been restricted by the dominance of neoliberal economics since the 1970s. That led to hyper- individualist, market fundamentalist, incremental and atomistic approaches. By hyper-individualist, I mean a focus on individual action as consumers, switching light bulbs or buying sustainable furniture, rather than promoting political action as engaged citizens. By market fundamentalist, I mean a focus on market mechanisms like the complex, costly and largely useless carbon cap and trade systems, rather than exploring what more government intervention could achieve. By incremental, I mean a focus on celebrating small steps forward such as a company publishing a sustainability report, rather than strategies designed for a speed and scale of change suggested by the science. By atomistic, I mean a focus on seeing climate action as a separate issue from the governance of markets, finance and banking, rather than exploring what kind of economic system could permit or enable sustainability.

And the triad of directions for action: resilience, relinquishment, restoration.

Deep adaptation will involve more than “resilience.” It brings us to a second area of this agenda, which I have named “relinquishment.” It involves people and communities letting go of certain assets, behaviours and beliefs where retaining them could make matters worse. Examples include withdrawing from coastlines, shutting down vulnerable industrial facilities, or giving up expectations for certain types of consumption. The third area can be called “restoration.” It involves people and communities rediscovering attitudes and approaches to life and organisation that our hydrocarbon-fuelled civilisation eroded. Examples include re-wilding landscapes, so they provide more ecological benefits and require less management, changing diets back to match the seasons, rediscovering non-electronically powered forms of play, and increased community-level productivity and support.

@ilaria and @matthias, I propose an experiment. Would you guys be up for organizing an EarthOS community call on the implications of the deep adaptation paradigm for the Edgeryders community, and EarthOS itself in particular? Should we make it our mission statement? Or just keep it as one thing to pay attention to? I see it as very relevant, especially for The Reef.

It could be a way to start reaching out to the deep green part of the community, and exploring opportunities for collaborating on meaningful work. I am thinking, for example, of @trythis, @winnieponcelet, @GrahamCaswell, @janetgunter, @richdecibels and @julyandavey, but also old acquaintances renewed: @smari and @elf_pavlik and @dougald and @hexayurt and @kate_g and @bridget_mckenzie and @lucasg. The Collapsonomics crowd comes to mind, naturally.

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BTW, Bendell might be someone to involve in the Econ-SF seminar.

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Hi Alberto,

Thank you for that. I read Bendell’s paper when it came out. My impression it was dark, depressing, and defeatist, but perfectly possible. Climatic system tipping points are far, far less understood than the linear relation between CO2e, heat and climate change, but there is widespread agreement that they’re out there (the PNAS ‘Hothouse Earth’ paper being a great overview). A decade or so ago James Hansen said that his guess was that there was a 20% chance that it was too late. After all the recent dismal data from the poles, the permafrost, tropical soils, etc., that guess would probably be revised upwards. The beginning of this collapse may happen next year, it may happen in 2100, or it may already already have happened. IMHO the only honest answer is that we don’t know, and my response is to assume that there’s hope until it’s proven there isn’t.

With that in mind I think Bendell’s social analysis that you’ve quoted is spot on (and well and concisely expressed), and that his prescriptions for restoration are widely shared. I like his focus on relinquishment and on the importance of letting go because I have come to believe that the inability to let go (of ideas, habits, norms, beliefs, etc.) is the biggest barrier to any change. Adopting the new is often exciting and energising. It’s letting go of the familiar and comfortable old that’s hard.

In terms of collaborating on presumably unpaid work there’s not much I can do. I’ve spent the last few years working mainly on advocating and lobbying for carbon dividends in Ireland (carbon tax with revenue distributed equally to all), and with some success (results to be announced in this October’s budget). There’s no shortage of meaningful work around for those who understand the scale and significance of our climate crisis - the big problem is finding meaningful work that pays the internet and electricity bills. In an attempt to reconcile these two imperatives I’m now focusing on carbon and climate risk disclosure for the corporate (and government/NGO) market - essentially selling my services as a teacher on climate and carbon (see: and my desktop presentation).

Kind regards,

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Why would you presume that? Sure, everyone does stuff for free, but Edgeryders is mostly about meaningful, paid work. The opportunity here is: we have an EarthOS unit, with a minimal infrastructure that is paid for by some projects acquired by Edgeryders central. The same infrastructure could be put to use to find more projects.

(your links are missing… the conversion of email posting to markdown must still be a bit glitchy)

That’s great to hear. My apologies for the incorrect assumption - I may have been conditioned by a few years of (and many requests for) very important, meaningful and unpaid work!

My nascent business in is at, and the video desktop presentation is at

I absolutely agree with the point of Bendell and so many others that market fundamentalism, hyper-individualistic consumerism, and market-motivated efforts to frustrate and delay real climate action. However I’m also very aware that market freedom creates huge value as well as huge destruction and waste. More importantly, and whatever one’s ideological view, I recognise market support as a social and political fact of life and thus integral to any possible or realistic hope we might have escaping the nightmare that Bendell describes.

With that said, my focus is on visibility - on making climate change visible. This involves internalising the cost of climate change into the price of everything (carbon pricing), making full and accessible information on the carbon content and climate consequences for every carbon-intensive activity (carbon labeling), and giving investors, customers, employees and other stakeholders full information on the carbon content and climate risk of every significant organisation (carbon and climate disclosure). My thesis and argument is that “the market” is not free or rational or effective without full information (including price and disclosure information) being available to every participant at the point of every spending or investment decision.

In the time we have left (if we have time left) it is not realistic, IMHO, to “overthrow capitalism” or “awaken the consciousness” of the world, etc. On the other hand, money talks, and money effects the decisions of everybody regardless of what they believe, or what they care about, or what they know about. So my focus is essentially at the intersection of climate change, money, and politics. Keep an eye on Ireland and carbon tax over the next six weeks or so to find out if that’s had a meaningful impact.

Outside of the fossil fuel industry and their ilk there’s essentially zero funding for political lobbying, so I’m dumping the political activism. My focus is now on climate change and money, and in particular helping the money understand climate change and the risks it poses for money. There is substantial movement here, with huge investor concern, mandatory carbon/climate risk disclosure on the horizon, and rapidly-growing awareness of carbon dividends as a way to get around Gilet Jaune-type opposition to carbon pricing that financally-pressed people can’t afford.

People might not care about climate climate, they might not care about the Amazon or Arctic, and they might not care about future generations. But they certainly care about money - especially those for whom money is a core value. Systemic changes like meaningful carbon pricing (think €200/ton+) and full disclosure make it pay to do the right thing, make it cost to do the wrong thing, and introduce the fear of losing money to every investor and business. These are powerful motivators.

Finally, none of this in any way negates other measures. I support any and all measures that help move us away from carbon, including draconian regulation. But you have to focus on something specific to have an effect, and these market measures are my primary focus!

Best wishes,


Graham Caswell

Carbon Tide
Context for the Carbon Transition

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That soon? Impressive.

So, the call might be about: OK, so here’s a good piece of writing to act as a common frame for the rather anarchic Edgeryders crowd. Here’s a small company who has managed to get a foot in the door of environmental/climate consulting and project delivery. Here’s a bunch of people, each with their own focus and skillsets, just like yours, Graham. What opportunities do we we see? How can we help each other to pursue them?

Inevitably, we will have more ideas than time/money/energy to pursue them. Additionally, EarthOS now is sprinting to deliver most of three new projects by the end of the year. But I still think it’s worth doing.

I love your action-focused thinking. I wasn’t aware of the Earth OS branch of Edgeryders or the Climate-KIC partnership, which I think is absolutely brilliant.

Regarding Irish carbon pricing, we are reaching the end of a two-year process that began in a national Citizen’s Assembly and moved to a cross-party parliamentary committee. Last march that committee agreed on an ambitious programme of climate action - with the exception of carbon tax. There is a meeting of that committee next week in a final attempt at consensus on carbon tax. Whatever happens at the meeting the process will then go behind the closed doors of the Department of Finance, with the details being announced in the national budget at the end of October. As it stands, the governing party, the Greens and a few others are supporting the return of revenue as some sort of dividend, with serious opposition from one major party and vague, “see which way the wind blows” opposition from another. Through my vehicle/role as ‘National Coordinator’ of Citizens’ Climate Lobby Ireland I’ve met with all the main political parties, spoken in an information briefing at the Irish parliament, engaged with the environmental NGOs, media and other actors and stakeholders, and tweeted (@CCLIreland), written and talked. Now we’ll see.

Canada has already implemented a carbon dividend, so Ireland would be second (although Canada would lose it’s carbon pricing if the Conservatives win an October election). Carbon pricing has to rise into the €’00’s over the next decade, and IMHO (and that of many, many others) the only politically possible way to do this is by returning revenue and thus ensuring that a voting majority financially gain. Ireland is vitally important in this effort because if we can get a clear, clean, unambiguous example of a politically acceptable price on carbon here it would be a model for the EU and beyond - and especially France, where there is growing movement in this direction. The core idea is that if people are getting real net cash in their pockets from carbon pricing, then they’ll vote for more of it.

In regard to potential projects, I am open to talking to and working with anybody as long as the goal is action towards paid work on carbon and climate. I have both a deep and current knowledge and a coherent overall perspective of the climate/money/politics space (i.e., policy transition risk), and I’m a fast, evidence-focused and auto didactic learner. Previous projects involved everything from offsets to F-gases, but the place I would like to be is teaching asset and risk managers and corporate executives about climate, carbon, and the risks (and opportunities) of climate change and the carbon transition. Basically I want to help them think about climate and carbon.

That’s the passion. The practice is initially offering 1/2 to 2-day training/education courses and consulting on carbon and climate. Topics include climate change, the International policy response, carbon pricing, etc. (see And maybe consulting help with TCFD and related disclosure and with scenario analysis. Future avenues of growth include expanding the topics covered by involving expertise to cover all areas of climate risk (physical as well as transition - and perhaps other environmental areas), and publishing high-end and expensive reports and newsletters. My evidence-based belief and prediction is that this area is going to grow explosively in the years ahead, as the reality of our climate situation sinks in and as governments, regulators and customers act accordingly. However adequate that movement is, my contention is that it will move markets and dramatically alter asset values across sectors.

Although I’ve had a few carbon-related contracts I’m just beginning to market the courses. After a few years focused on non-paying politics I’m hungry for money, and this business aligns that hunger with my passion for climate and emissions reduction. I have previous start-up and investor experience (failed, but educational) and substantial small business experience, so this is not my first rodeo. Apart from my specialist knowledge (and network) I have substantial experience in education and training across several domains. Skills where I’m weak are sales and administration, and important experience that I’m lacking is direct experience inside the financial sector.

I’m looking for contracts, looking for work, and looking for jobs, and I’d be delighted to talk to anybody along those lines or, indeed, to explore any other opportunities. If any more specific ideas occur to me I’ll post them.

Best wishes,


Graham Caswell

Carbon Tide
Context for the Carbon Transition

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EarthOS The Document has a lot of deep adaptation ideas and technologies in it … you can test drive as many as you want in The Reef. But I need to bring this stuff into publishable form first, and I see that as more productive than organizing a community call at this stage. (That includes: my hope to find any collaborator for the EarthOS Document is zero. I’ll have to write that alone, at least until it becomes practically useful and people can see what it can do for them.)

You misunderstand me, Matt. The idea here is to find paid projects for EarthOS, which build on the work already done.

For example, the green building conversion document for The Reef fits nicely into EarthOS the document. And we have some budget to buy you a collaborator. We could proceed along the same idea, so that you do not have to look on another five years of struggle to get the mother of all wikis up to speed!

Mmh yes, paid collaborators are nice help indeed to finish and publish any sub-part of the EarthOS document. What I want is to finish and publish the framework parts, so that the other sub-parts contributed by projects are added to this as we go. That framework is where the vision for an alternative civilization is … all the other parts, on their own, are just orchestrated collections of old and new appropriate technology ideas.

And there won’t be a funded client project for the EarthOS framework, because it’s outright anarchist …

P.S.: The closest part to the framework that could be funded is the open hardware package manager application. Something like apt, npm, gem or whatever software package manager you use, but for hardware designs with CAD files, assembly instructions, mutual dependencies and so on. If anyone sees a funding call that we could bend to fit this in, let me know please!

We could invest in it ourselves, Matt. We could scrape some budget around. The bigger EarthOS gets, the more leeway we have. So, I would love to have quite some people looking around, writing applications etc. Hence the community call, as a sort of light coordination episode. For example, in this same thread, @GrahamCaswell suddenly realized that we could be an ally in his procuring some business, and can now, if he so wishes, consider how we could work together to enhance common prosperity.

There might be others like him…

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Yes, I see what you have in mind. It’s how we built the Edgeryders company over the years, and business-wise quite successfully so, I’d say.

But by now I have some deeper frustration with this mode of work. The overhead of doing business and “projects” is just … too much, and stands in the way of actual work. Most of my time is now consumed with project management work, filling and signing timesheets, fixing the tech here and there, still chasing that rare opportunity of being paid for what I consider meaningful work. All that overhead is not efficient at all. All that client-pleasing work with meetings, conferences, reports, deliverables and all is a distraction from getting done what has to be done to enable a mass transition to an ecologically beneficial lifestyle.

I will continue the project work for the bit of money I need, of course, but not beyond. Instead I’ll do the initial work for the EarthOS framework myself. To get that work done, I should just drive my truck into the forest, write EarthOS for half the day and go mountain biking for the other half. After six months of that, there would be something to show for it and to build on further. While after six months of average project work for a client, what result do we have that would count as meaningful, open source infrastructure for an ecologically healthy planet?

Translation: if you don’t need money, you can get quite some stuff done by taking long, unbroken chunks of work at it. No argument.

Relationships. We already have many solutions, what we don’t have is takeup. Doing this type of work out into the human world, instead of in the forest, means making allies, advocating, proselitizing, being proselitized etc. It’s a bit cheesy to quote the saying of “if you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together”, but there is something there. Also, it is in full accordance with the Deep Adaptation paper itself: if you want to change social norms, you need to do it in society. Where else?

Exactly. Which is why I’m working towards that goal. :slight_smile:

Dear All - between traveling and focussing on other upcomming matters - MCC conference on values in assessments I read the ‘deep adaptation paper’ and scanned the exchange that you had so far. On some ‘detail’ I would debate, on the overall target ‘enable for deep societal changes’ I would aligne, on the ‘exteniction is comming tune’ I would disagree. What will come to an end is the currently hegemonical social/societal manner to orgnanize ‘civilisation’ (it is the end of the ‘ancien regime’). This change will require deep adaptation, indeed. It would be worthful to gather insights / experiences / approaches that could enable (more) people to scope with ‘deep adaptation’ compared to incremental changes (along a known develpment path) avoiding conflict-prone attitudes (war). best regars,Martin

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So, in more blunt terms: climate change as the end of the nation state and the globalized market economy? That’s an interesting take. The anarchist in me likes it :slight_smile:

To all practical purposes, you have already achieved it!

I would take matters differently - to sketch (without dwelling on system-conform absurdities of the current hegemonical social/societal manner to organize ‘civilisation’ that could be ended without questioning basic system features):

First, being 7-11 billion human beings, even when they/we consume and produce (very) differently than today, we will need a global economy to provide goods and commodities needed for (a decent) life. It makes sense to use (=/= exploite) differential advantages to produce a given commodiy / good. Any future economy will be a of goods and commodities; although (likely) differently organised as today.

Second, a market is a process to exchange goods on the basis of their value. That is not stupid, per se, but raises the question of ‘what value’ and how value is measured (this seems to be a key-question; see Le Monde Diplomatique earlier this year). Simplified: Currently, we express in our economi/ies value through the prize to reproduce a good at a given geographical place and time; that is ‘demand & supply thinking’; the cost/prize of a good is (partially) decoupled from its ‘value of use’. This is a distortion (to end). Also we produce goods without internalising in its prize the full cost of the good; we operate not in closed but in an open system (example: emissions/pollution, inputs/rawmaterials at extraction cost, etc.). This kind of features leads to very distorted exchanges at the ‘market’ (whether global or local). These distorted markets are embedded in a culture / thinking that justifies the current way of production and exchange. This kind of an ‘open system economy / societal set up’ will have to find its end; it is not sustainable at least not for a population of 7-11 billion people. Therefore it has to end, for the fluxes of many substances - carbon dioxide, nitrogen, phosphate,… water,… biodiversity.

Third, the (European-made) societal construct of the nation-state is a quite recent historical development that emerged in junction with the current (hegeomonial) economic / social model (replacing the 'ancien régime). If that model (to organise big groups of people to produce/consume/…) is modified / replaced then the nation-state may change too. But what could come at its place, the ‘nation state’ is currenly the (THE) means to organize groupings of several 10 / 100 million people?

All the best and happy to continue the exchange!

Yes, I’d say so. As I see it, the climate crisis is a human matter and we should treat it like that. It involves our way of living and, ultimately, our connections to others, our emotions. As every changing moment in our lives, as in every crisis, we can choose how to react: to be conservative and behave like we always did (the way that brought us to the crisis, actually) or to adapt to a terrifying scenario that we can’t pretend it’s not there. As the crisis is a major one, we have to committ ourselves to a major or deep adaptation.

What Bendell suggests about resilience, relinquishment and restoration is, in my opinion, also a psychological and cognitive process to face. As different studies start to report, there is something called “eco-anxiety” that affects more and more people (this article suggests the our Bendell has something to do with it). The geographical scale of the impact makes it invisible and, at the same time, overwhelming for any person. We can react with different shades of denial and / or feel totally powerless. OR, even accepting the anxiety coming with it, shift from the individual to the communal and work actively to this radical transformation our societies need.

What I intend to highlight, here, is that we shouldn’t forget the human side and the importance of emotions to succeed.

So, @GrahamCaswell when you say:

my focus is on visibility - on making climate change visible. This involves internalising the cost of climate change into the price of everything (carbon pricing), making full and accessible information on the carbon content and climate consequences for every carbon-intensive activity (carbon labeling), and giving investors, customers, employees and other stakeholders full information on the carbon content and climate risk of every significant organisation (carbon and climate disclosure). My thesis and argument is that “the market” is not free or rational or effective without full information (including price and disclosure information) being available to every participant at the point of every spending or investment decision.

I think this is a good move and I thank you for the work you’re doing in Ireland and at a larger scale. Nonetheless, I personally see it as a short term move or a stage in the path to reach more awareness among a wide public. But I don’t know if “the market” will be the same in a not so long frame of time and I don’t know if we have to keep playing by someone else’s book. Here is where I see the value of the Econ-SF (economic science fiction seminar - this was our first edition) and the need to imagine new paradigms of economic and societal change.

Speaking of collapsology, here is one of the most famous and expert in describing the situation and the possible ways to get out of it, Pablo Servigne (@alberto, I think I’m going to invite him to the next Econ-SF) in a subtitled conference about a future without oil.

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I absolutely agree that “the market” will likely be very different in a not so long timeframe. One thing to keep in mind is that “the market” includes everything from giant wealth funds buying and selling billions in financial assets every day, to a small food producer selling in the local farmer’s market. Thinking/talking about it as if it’s all one thing is to simplify to the ridiculous.

My focus on systemic regulatory change to make the costs of climate change visible to the market (carbon pricing/disclosure/labeling) is indeed short term. Specifically my time horizon is 2030, by which time we have to cut global emissions in half. All the “ologies” and “isms” in the world are useless when the task is right in front of our face right now. There’s a difference between wanting to be right and wanting to get things done. And for those who want to get things done and who are asking “what do I do”, I would suggest it makes sense to focus, focus, focus on the most important thing you can find - the point in all the complexity that has the leverage and where the biggest effects (measured in emissions reduction) can be had from small, realistic efforts and specific actions.

For me those actions involve unpaid political lobbying focusing on the only carbon pricing model that has a hope of making carbon very, very expensive (i.e. carbon dividends). For me that is a “new paradigm of economic and societal change”. Here in Ireland another €20/ton (6 cents on 1L of petrol, etc.) would pay every person a carbon dividend of €180 per year. That’s a €360 dividend for a couple. A few years later the tax is €40/ton and they’re getting €720. At €80 the dividend is nearly €1,500. And that’s without taxing aviation fuel, agricultural emissions, or the ETS polluters. Border carbon tariffs would incentivise other nations - and put more revenue into the pot for even bigger dividends.

And on the business side, paying the bills, I teach anybody who’ll pay me to teach them about this stuff in one way or another, and basically show them why it’s important to identify, reduce and sell their carbon before the rest of the market does. If I ever get time, I’ll encourage the labeling of every fuel purchase, airline ticket, electricity bill and bag of coal with clear, unambiguous information about what this is and what the consequences of buying it/using it are. Maybe even a photo of a flooded Bangladeshi family, or a starving polar bear - whichever tests best.

Money and price affects behaviour no matter what you believe, care about, or understand. If you put your pension into an investment, you deserve to know what climate is going to do to that investment. And if you’re going to fly to Prague for the weekend, not only should you be paying through the nose for the damage you’re doing, but the effects and consequences of your choices should be available right there on your ticket and boarding pass. Carbon pricing, disclosure, and labeling make climate change visible in a powerful way, in every single purchasing and investment decision.

There are many interconnected solutions that might help us cut global emissions in half by 2030 but, being systemic, these three, big policy solutions help them all. IMHO, for those concerned about climate and who consider the potential impact (measured in actual emissions reductions), these policies of climate visibility deserve more attention and support than they get.

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